Jose Maria Andonaegui

Jose Maria Andonaegui, Santa Barbara’s Tailor

(Mutriku, Gipuzkoa, 1825 – Santa Barbara, California, 1885)

Jose Maria Andonaegui was born in 1825 in Mutriku, Gipuzkoa. Seventeen years later in 1842, the young boy made the transatlantic journey to Buenos Aires. For seven years, Andonaegui lived in the Argentinian city, learning the tailoring trade. He married his wife Estefania Etcheverria in Buenos Aires in 1849. 

Later that year, Jose Maria was lured by the California Gold Rush. He moved to San Francisco, California, followed by a year in the Sierra Nevada mountains to mine gold. Placer gold mining was not to be in his future, however, as he learned that the growing city of San Francisco needed tailors. Andonaegui’s previous occupation presented him a much better opportunity.

Eventually, four years later, Jose Maria moved his business out of San Francisco, making Santa Barbara his new home. A notice in the Los Angeles Herald announced Andonaegui’s shop remodel on Santa Barbara’s State St. (November 18, 1873). The notice added that Andonaegui’s new business would “…be larger and finer than any other store in the city.” Andonaegui remained in the tailor trade for ten more years until he retired.

State Street, Santa Barbara, circa 1875. Photo: Hayward & Muzzall. [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Jose Maria Andonaegui was one of the first Santa Barbara settlers. He amassed many urban properties during his business years, and was responsible for the construction of many grand buildings in the city, too. Income from property rentals and other financial interests allowed him to live the last chapter of his life comfortably, even able to enjoy two visits to his home country in 1870 and 1878. Jose Maria and Estefania raised two daughters and a son.


Mason, Jesse D. (1883.) History of Santa Barbara County, California, with illustrations and biographical sketches of its prominent men and pioneers. Thompson & West, Oakland, California.